How to scale your small business

Imagine you’re a hairdresser and you charge £20 per cut. If you spend 20 minutes per client, you can make £60/ hour. You can grow your income if you get more clients and work more hours a day, if you charge more per cut, or if you cut faster. These are all fine options but even if you did them all, there’s only so much you can grow this way.

You’re not Edward Scissorhands, so you can’t go much faster. There’s only 24 hours a day and unless your customers are the Kardashians, there’s only so much you can reasonably charge for a hair cut. So if you’d like the sky to be the limit, you need scale. You need to figure out a way where the amount of hours you put in is not always going to be proportional to how much money you make. Sounds great?

At this point you’re probably thinking: ‘how the heck can a hairdresser scale?’ I will give you a few examples, courtesy of my hairdresser’s creative mindset during the pandemic:

  • You can sell hair products at your salon and run a local delivery service.
  • You can pre-mix and deliver hair dye to your customers, along with some instructions, so they can get salon quality at home.
  • You can run an online course and teach customers how to trim their kids’ hair at home.

Take the online course for example: it requires the same amount of effort whether you have one person registered or ten. Let’s say you charge £10 for attendance and get 10 registrations, you can now make over £100 for those same 20 minutes, instead of £20. Of course, you can’t do as many courses a month as you can do hair cuts, but you can have your online courses become an additional revenue stream.

If you can find a few alternative and low maintenance revenue streams, you can grow your income to a much higher level than you would if you relied solely on how many hours a day you can work.

To sum up, there’s really only four ways to grow your small business (and you can do all 4!):

  • You can work more hours (or hire people to do it);
  • You can charge more for your products and services;
  • You can be faster/ more productive;
  • You can gain scale.

Put your creative hat on and have a think about how you can gain scale. It may be something directly related to your current line of business, or perhaps it could be based on other skills you have. The most important things to consider when looking to scale your small business are:

  • The amount of money you can make is not in a 1:1 proportion to the number of hours you need to work.
  • Your additional revenue stream won’t conflict with or take business away from your main focus (also known as canibalisation).

Preferably you should scale into an area that complements your main business but not necessarily. Even if those two are not related, the money from your ‘gig on the side’ can provide much needed budget to support your small business.

Are you already scaling your business? Tell me your story and I will feature it on the blog. You can contact me at:

Published by Carolina Marino Sargeant

I’m Carolina Marino Sargeant. I am a British/ Brazilian professional with 15 years’ experience in Marketing and Corporate Communications. I have been at both ends of the spectrum, having worked for very small businesses with no marketing budget and for Fortune 100 tech giants with hundreds of marketing professionals. My website offers marketing ideas and tips for small businesses and self-employed professionals who would like to grow their revenue or income with little to no marketing budget.

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